US should systematically withdraw from Afghanistan: Pakistan’s foreign minister

US should systematically withdraw from Afghanistan: Pakistan’s foreign minister
# 18 June 2021 21:31 (UTC +04:00)

The US should systematically withdraw from Afghanistan to prevent what had happened in the 1990s in the country, Pakistan's foreign minister said on Friday, APA reports quoting Anadolu.

"If [US] withdrawal is not systematic, we are concerned that Afghanistan may get sucked into a situation that we experienced in the 1990s, when there was anarchy, civil war, instability," Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Anadolu Agency at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in the Turkish Riviera city of Antalya.

Qureshi said that the withdrawal should be carried out in a "responsible way."

"Afghans have paid the biggest price. The second to the Afghans are Pakistanis. We lost 83,000 lives on account of terrorism. Our economy has suffered close to over $128 billion," he said.

Noting that Pakistan hosts nearly 3 million Afghan refugees for four decades, he said they do not want another influx of refugees.
"We think it's time that they go back home with honor and dignity. And that can only happen if there's peace and stability in Afghanistan," he said.

Underlining that Pakistan facilitated the peace process between the Taliban and the US at the Doha Peace Agreement, he said: "As far as peace of Afghanistan is concerned, my point is, and my contention is that this is a shared responsibility. Pakistan is already in its role, but it's basically the conciliation within Afghanistan."

Stressing that the ownership and the responsibility lie on the Afghan leadership, he said they have to sit together and decide on their future.
Pakistan can only facilitate the process, he said, adding that they cannot tell Afghanistan what to do as Afghanistan is a sovereign and independent country.

On Turkish forces to take over the security role in Afghanistan as the US withdrawal from the country, he said Pakistan has always been very comfortable with Turkey.

"Whether it's Turkish forces, Turkish Foreign Ministry, Turkish leadership. We have a very, very comfortable relationship," he noted.

"Turkey is part of NATO. But NATO has decided to withdraw. [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan made a statement at the summit… I might get an opportunity to have a word with him over there to find out what is in his mind," he said.

Pointing out that the Istanbul Conference, where the Afghanistan peace process would be discussed, has been canceled, he said: "I would like to know how Turkey is foreseeing the future. Turkey is an important regional power. We hold meetings regularly."

About his meetings with the Turkish president and foreign minister, he said they would also discuss Islamophobia besides Afghanistan.

Underlining that Turkey and Pakistan have similar views on this issue, he said there is a rising trend of hate speech, discrimination and targeting of Muslims in the West.

We collectively feel that we need to combat this growing menace, he said.